A young soldier serving in the US Army has pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to establish contact with terrorists in order to assist them in ambushing American soldiers stationed in the Middle East, Your Content has learned.
Cole Bridges, a 22-year-old private based in Fort Stewart, Georgia, confessed to seeking to provide material support to terrorists and plotting the murder of US military service members.
If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 20 years for each offense, with his sentencing scheduled for November 2.
Bridges, hailing from Stow, Ohio, has been in custody since his arrest in January 2021, during his service with the Third Infantry Division as a cavalry scout.
He enlisted in September 2019. Legal documents reveal that Bridges began researching and consuming extremist propaganda online at the age of 19 in 2019, expressing support for the Islamic State militant group and jihad on social media.
According to authorities, Bridges engaged in online communication with an individual he believed to be a supporter of the Islamic State group and in contact with their fighters in the Middle East.
Unbeknownst to him, the person he was conversing with was an undercover FBI employee.
During his plea hearing, Bridges admitted to providing the Islamic State group with tactical advice, hand-drawn diagrams of potential troop maneuvers, pages from the Army Field Manual on combat tactics, and a propaganda video.
“I knowingly attempted to assist the efforts of ISIS to repel and kill American soldiers engaged in official duties in the Middle East.
I knew at that time that ISIS was a terrorist organization and had engaged in terrorist activity.
I also knew that my conduct was wrong,” Bridges confessed before Judge Lewis J. Liman.
Referred to as Cole Gonzales in some instances, Bridges expressed frustration with the US military during his online conversations, as detailed in court papers.
After the hearing, Bridges experienced an emotional reunion with his father, whom he had not seen in three years, before being returned to jail.
His attorney, Sabrina Shroff, declined to comment on the case.
In a statement, US Attorney Damian Williams condemned Bridges’ actions, stating, “As he admitted in court today, Cole Bridges attempted to orchestrate a murderous ambush on his fellow soldiers in service of ISIS and its violent ideology. Bridges’s traitorous conduct was a betrayal of his comrades and his country”, according U.S. News.